Above: Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" Photo by Rick Borstein. Video available below.
Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo", is a large, elongated cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa. This fish does not have a proper scientific name yet and it has been exported in the past as Otopharynx sp. 'productus sharp snout'. It originally was thought to be a Mylochromis species, but Konings advises that the three blotches on the flanks suggests that it belongs in Otopharynx instead. Still, it wouldn't surprise me to see this fish eventually moved into another genus entirely.
Juveniles and females are an overall silvery-grey color and usually, but not always, show three blotches on the side. Male coloration can vary quite a bit depending on the mood of the fish. When courting, males have a bright blue head and silvery to silver-blue sides. When frightened or not feeling dominant, males look very much like females. The picture above is probably a bit bluer than is typical due to camera flash.
Males get up to almost eight inches and females stay a tad smaller. This is actually quite an easy fish to keep and the unusual shape should make it a popular fish moving forward.
Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" may easily be confused with Otopharynx sp. "Blue Torpedo". The photos in Koning's Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat 4th Edition of the fish in the lake are not as blue as the fish appears in the aquarium . However, as Konings points out, adult "Blue Torpedo" fish are much smaller, topping out at about five inches.
Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" is found in the shallow, muddy areas near the Southwestern shore of Lake Malawi near Kambiri Point.
Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" is not an aggressive species. Males give mild chase to females but no damage occurs. Because this fish grows rather large and is a fast and active swimmer, a four foot tank or longer is recommended. I do not advise keeping this species with other, more aggressive Malawians such as Mbuna. Overall, this is not a difficult species to keep.
Konings believes that Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" feeds on young juvenile cichlids in the lake. It has a relatively small mouth, so I don't believe it could eat very large prey. Feeding is not a problem, though! I offered Tetra Cichlid Sticks, Exreme Big Fella, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe and Repashy gel food. All of these foods were accepted readily.
My group of seven, adult Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" were a gift from fellow GCCA member Mike Helford who always seems to have a lot of cool and unusual Malawian cichlids. I took them home and placed them in a 4-foot, 90 gallon tank along with a group of Protomelas labridens which Mike offered at the same time. Lucky me! This tank was filtered by a large wet-dry filter and had a deep sand substrate.
Since these were adult fish and my goal was to get them to spawn as soon as possible, I fattened the fish up on Repashy Spawn and Grow, a gel-based food which is rich in protein and fat and thus great for conditioning. After a very large water change (about 80%) on a Sunday, I observed a holding female on the following Monday. Unfortunately, I did not observe the breeding, but Konings reports that he has never seen a bower built by this fish. Neither did I.
I allowed the female to hold for twelve days after which I stripped her of 62 (!) very large, elongated "heads and tails" fry. I moved the fry to a clean 2 gallon container which I maintained at 80F. Eight days hence, the fry were free-swimming and I began feeding baby brine shrimp. A week later, I moved the babies to a 10-gallon tank for grow out. At this time, I began feeding crushed, NLS Optum Flake Food. The fry grow steadily, but not rapidly.
Otopharynx sp. "Silver Torpedo" is not a fish you'll find at your local pet store, but they are occasionally available on wholesale lists from specialty cichlid sellers. Wild-caught adults run about $50 to $70 each. F1 Juveniles go for $8-$10 each.
Report June 2013 by Rick Borstein